WARNINGS: MxM romance, animal abuse, implied alcohol abuse, implied adultery, implied child abuse. If any of that bothers you, then leave right now.
The sun outside was beating down on the pavement of the playground, baking the ground mercilessly with never ending heat. Children were running, enjoying the sunshine and their recess, hanging from the monkey bars and screaming from the swing sets that rattled and creaked as the bolts that held the thing together were strained with the weight of the kids that hung from it.
The fourth grade teacher, Ms. Mayfield was at her desk, looking over the latest assignment that her class had handed in, writing down comments and corrections with her green pen. Green, because red was just so overused and just seemed too harsh for a fourth grade class.
She glanced up as the door opened slowly and hesitant footsteps approached her. She looked over to see a head of striking black hair stand before her, eyes downcast and a charred pile of ... something held in small hands that were trembling as much as the shoulders from what she could only guess were impending tears.
Ms. Mayfield quickly got up from her desk and went over to see what was wrong with the boy, because that was what she was expected to do as a teacher. One of the hands left the thing they were holding and tugged gently at her skirt, trying to turn her attention to him, as if that wasn't where it already was.
"Thomas? What happened?" her voice was layered with concern, because this little boy always was the one that got teased and ignored by all the other kids in the class. But he never really seemed to mind. "Did someone tease you again? Tell me who it was and I'll have a talk with them."
"Someone set my stuffed owl on fire ..." the little boy muttered, holding up the charred remains of once-white feathers that smelled horribly of burned flesh. "It was my favorite stuffed owl ... Why would they do that?"
Ms. Mayfield turned around to look at the boy that had tugged on her skirts. Her face immediately paled, acquiring a faint hue of green as the smell assaulted her nose and clawed down her throat.
"Oh, Thomas, that's why you shouldn't be bringing in toys from home," her voice was forced sweet and calm as she tried not to run away from the confused boy. She bent down and patted him on the head. "Why don't you just throw that into the garbage and go play with the other kids?"
"But this isn't a toy," he argued, his blue eyes wide and imploring as he stared at her with a sort of desperation that left her confused. "It's not a toy, it's my stuffed owl. I stuffed it myself. It was my favorite."
"I know, love, but there's nothing that I can do to help you with it. So run along and play with the other children, alright?" Ms. Mayfield stood up and disappeared quickly into the bathroom, her hand pressed against her mouth.
"But the other kids don't want to play with me ..." Thomas said sadly, looking at the spot where the teacher was for several more minutes before he turned and left through the door, back outside to where the other kids were all having recess.
He could feel a pair of eyes that watched him as he sat down on the bench that was meant for any parents that happened by so that they could watch their children play, keeping them company if they happened to be alone. He glanced around, but they were gone before he could meet them with his own gaze.
He tried hard not to let the disappointment show on his features.
When it was time to go home, Ms. Mayfield asked for Thomas to hang back, giving him a neatly sealed envelope and watching him tuck it into his bag. Neither noticed the eyes that watched them as they talked, wide and curious and tinted with worry as they stared at the other boy.
"This is for your parents, alright? I don't want you to open it, I just want you to give it to your parents." Her voice was still as honey sweet as it was before, but the smile that was on her lips was tainted with a mixture of fright and disgust, not quite reaching her pale hazel eyes like it always did.
"It won't do anything ..." he mumbled but obediently slipped the bag back over his shoulders. "My parents don't care. They know that I'm completely fucked in the head. They don't care." His voice had turned into something that she never heard before, small and bitter and hateful and betrayed.
"I'm sure that you're exaggerating, Thomas, because I'm sure that if they knew half the things that you did they'd get you some medical attention," was the teacher's response as she laid a gentle hand on the boy's shoulder. "This isn't because you're messed up Thomas, this is because I care about you and worry about your well being, alright? Don't forget that."
The boy gave a curt nod and scurried quickly out the door. Ms. Mayfield sat back on one of the desks, head in her hands, shoulders trembling because she just didn't know what she was supposed to do anymore.
Thomas had done exactly what he was told. The envelope lay on the kitchen table, untouched and unopened, waiting for his mother to get home, because of course his father won't be getting home until later, reeking of booze and sex, mouth running and fists flying.
A glass of milk was beside Thomas' elbow on the table, half gone. His homework was opened before him, pencil flying across the page in a desperate race to finish before five o'clock rolled around, because then life became way too complicated for homework.
By quarter to five he was done, and his bag was upstairs in his room, under his bed. Thomas' head was pillowed by the crook of his elbow, eyes open and staring at the stuffed guinea pig that had been on his bedside table up until several minutes ago.
Glassed eyes stared back at him, dead and unfocused. The fur was soft beneath his fingers as he stroked it gently, tugging out several strands that refused to lay flat properly and letting them drop down onto the dark fabric of his jeans, each white strand standing out magnificently.
At five minutes after five the door opened and a tall, slender woman in high heels and a leather jacket walked in. Thomas stood up and stood before his mother, hoping that he might recieve a hug or something like that, looking up at the perfectly porcelain face expectantly.
Instead he got a mumbled greeting and a pat to the head as she breezed past him, dumping her things on the chair and glancing at the envelope that was neatly adressed to her.
"Another one, Thomas?" she asked, her voice exasperated and slightly angry, but not reproachful or scolding like it should be. "Why do you insist on being such a horrible child? Do you not yet understand that it gives me and your father a bad name?"
Thomas shook his head, tilting it to the side as he scanned his mother's face. But all emotion was hidden beneath the thick layer of makeup that covered the skin that was as pale as moonlight usually but now looked dark and sunkissed.
"Father has a bad name because he's nothing more than a drunk that fucks everything that has legs and is even the least bit warm," he said, voice quiet and bitter. "Nothing I do can make his name worse."
Thomas reeled back as the hand connected with his cheek. Clutching at the reddened flesh, he looked at his mother, refusing to glare, refusing to utter a sound that would let her know that she hurt him. "Don't you dare speak like that against your father, do you hear me young man?"
He nodded curtly, his expression that of someone that was not nine, but instead so much older. "Sorry mother. It won't happen again."
Her shoulders visibly relaxed, and the ugly frown that contorted her features smoothed over quickly, her face going back to its neutral position, fake smile hitched back into place. "See to it that it doesn't. Now, sit here while I read what your teacher has to say about you this time. Come on, sit."
Thomas sat obediently on the stool that he had vacated only minutes before, eyes trained on the sanded, polished wood of the table.
"What stuffed owl?" his mother suddenly spoke up, prompting him to look up and at the pale green of her eyes. One perfectly trimmed eyebrow was raised, disappeared behind her fringe. "What stuffed owl? I don't recall buying you anything of the sort."
Thomas was silent for a long moment, looking down at the table once again. His voice was soft when he finally replied, barely audible over the noise of the silence. "You never bought it for me. I made it with the owl that I hit with my sling shot."
"You killed and stuffed an owl? That is disgusting, you brat," his mother said, standing up and fixing herself a cup of tea. "When did you do that? And don't tell me that all the other animals that you have in your room are the same."
"I made that owl last month," he replied, taking a tentative sip of the milk that he had left. "I made all the other animals, too. They took a long time to make because most of them took a long time to die." He might as well have been talking about the weather, his tone was so casual, as if it was all normal.
He chanced another look up at his mother, who was looking back at him, her expression set in a scowl of disgust that did not suit her features at all and made her look like the toad that he had in his drawer. The thought made him giggle quietly under his breath, slapping a hand over his mouth to muffle the noise.
"Go upstairs to your room. No dinner for you. If I hear even one noise from you, you won't be coming downstairs for a whole week." Her voice was cold, icy and frozen. He nodded, going up the stairs and closing the door behind him.
And that was how he found himself the next day, closed in a room that was so sickeningly white that it made him want to throw up. His mother was by the door, his father talking to the nurses, no doubt wanting to know if this was in any way going to show up on his records.
Thomas was sitting on the bed, hard and lumpy beneath him. He smoothed his hand over the covers, suddenly longing to feel the fur of the guinea pig that was back on his bedside table. His hand trembled as he glanced up to see that his parents had left without so much as a goodbye.
He grinned to himself and got up to go talk to the nurse that was still by the door, filling in papers and fiddling with her clipboard.
"Where did my parents go?" he asked, tugging on her skirt, like he always did with Ms. Mayfield. "Why didn't they say goodbye? Do they hate me now? More than they did before, I mean."
The nurse knelt down and ruffled his hair affectionately. "They don't hate you, little boy, they love you. They're just worried about you, that's why you're here, understand? Because your parents think that you need help that you can't get at home."
"But why didn't they say goodbye? Am I going to see them tomorrow after school?" he asked pushing away the hand that had settled on his head and looking at the nurse imploringly, blue eyes wide and confused and swimming with something that was akin to fright.
The nurse was silent for a long moment, standing up and finishing up whatever she was doing with her clipboard, holding it behind her back and smiling at him sweetly. Fakely, he noted briefly. "You can if you want to. Do you still want to go to your school? Because you can, but you just have to go with a nurse, is that okay?"
"I don't want to go home," he said, clasping his hands behind his back. "It's lonely there, because I'm always alone. But I want my animals, because they're special. I killed them all myself, and then stuffed them so that they wouldn't leave me, ever. So they can stay with me forever, so that I won't be lonely when my parents aren't there."
But the nurse was gone, and he could faintly hear the clicking of her heels on the polished linoleum floor that was coloured with bright blue and yellow lines that stretched the length of the hallway on opposite sides.
Thomas sighed and walked back into his room, sitting on the bed and staring out the window.
"Thomas, you have a visiter. Can I let him in?" the nurse asked as she opened the door to his room. The boy turned around from the bird that he was leaning over, nodding briefly and hiding the bloodied thing under the bed, hiding his hands behind his back.
Another boy, slightly taller than he was walked in, a scowl on his face and mud stains on the knees of his jeans. "Hi," he said, refusing to meet Thomas' eyes.
Thomas said nothing, standing up and sitting on the bed, legs crossed and arms resting lightly on his knees. Wide blue eyes scanned the boy's face, emotionless as he had grown to be since he came here.
"I know that you can talk, Thomas. Why aren't you saying 'hi' back? It's rude to ignore someone you know," the other boy said. He sat down on the bed across from Thomas. The scowl was gone from his face, replaced by curiosity and fascination. "So you're an actual freak? That's so cool!"
Thomas continued to say nothing, just staring at the other boy, whose name he could vaguely remember as Scott.
"Will you say something? Please? I want to talk to you! I came to visit you, you know. So you should thank me, because now that I'm here you don't have to be alone anymore!" But Thomas continued to look at him silently.
"Fine. If you want to be mean, I'll just leave, then. I have plenty of friends, so I don't need someone like you to be my friend." Scott said, sliding off the bed and heading for the door.
"Why?" Thomas suddenly heard himself asking. He himself was unsure of what he meant, but Scott seemed to understand exactly what he meant.
"Because it's my fault that you're here," Scott answered, eyes downcast and guilt churning in his features. "I'm the one that set your owl on fire, because the other kids told me to. Because everyone thought that you were a freak and that freaks deserve that kind of treatment. That's why."
Thomas fell back into silence staring out the window, ignoring the boy as he said good bye and left through the door, closing it behind him.
Scott came to visit him pretty much every day during Spring Break, always asking him how he was doing and bringing him treats that his mother would make.
Thomas continued being silent. He refused to say anything, because he knew that if he said anything people would get mad at him, because he was a freak that deserved such treatment. His mother had sad so when she came to bring him clothing because most of what he had brought with him was covered in blood stains.
They had moved him into a room that didn't have a window, so that he couldn't harm any more animals. They took away his sewing kit and gave him new pillows because he had ripped up the old ones to get the stuffing out of them. But they let him keep the birds that he already made.
Every time Scott came to visit, Thomas would sit with his favorite in his lap, a lovely chikadee with the blackest head that he had ever seen. He would pet it, stroke it lovingly, fingers running across downy feathers as he listened to the other boy speak.
"Tomorrow you're coming to school, right?" Scott asked him, poking him in the shoulder as Thomas brought his gaze up to meet his, shaking his head vaguely. "Why not? You have to come!"
Thomas shrugged and turned his attention back to the bird in his lap. "But I want to be your friend! And I can't do that when you're stuck in this room all the time! I get bored, coming here all the time, because it's so boring up here. So because I always go through the trouble of finding time for you, you have to at least do that for me."
Thomas looked up, startled. His mouth opened, as if he was going to respond, but no words came out. Instead, tears stung at his eyes, spilling over and falling onto the bird in his lap as his head turned towards the ground.
Scott looked confused, not sure why he was crying. Thinking that it was because Thomas was mad at him, he quickly got up and left the room, letting the door slam shut behind him and leaving Thomas to clutch the bird to his chest and sob silently.
The next day Thomas was clutching the hand of the nurse that was to escort him to class. The man kept glancing down at him, sending him reassuring smiles and running his fingers through the jet black hair that fell messily across his blue eyes that were swimming with fear and uncertainty.
Ms. Mayfield greeted him warmly as he walked into the classroom, stepping outside to chat with the nurse as Thomas took the abandoned seat by the window, as far away from the other kids as possible. But then Scott was there, and he was holding his hand and smiling at him.
Thomas looked at him, attempting to smile, and he might have succeeded, because the smile that he got back was happy and bright and reassuring.
Thomas' nurse stood in the back of the class, filling out paperwork and taking notes as Thomas sat with Scott, who kept talking to him even though he refused to talk back. Ms. Mayfield kept hovering around Thomas, watching him closely, making him visibly nervous, but Scott was always there to hold his hand and reassure him.
For the next few years it continued like this. Scott and Thomas were always in the same class, because the hospital kept requesting it, because something about Scott was keeping Thomas calmer than he ever was.
But Thomas still refused to talk, and he still refused to be seperated from his chickadee. But Scott refused to give up, even when they were in high school, and girls kept hovering around him, flirting and asking why he spent his time with such a freak.
To which Scott would always respond that "That freak happens to be my best friend, so you better not call him that anymore." Thomas would blush and look away, usually slink away to a deserted hallway, only to be followed by Scott, who would grab his hand like he was a child that needed comfort.
Which might have been all he is.
"Why?" Thomas croaked out. His voice was rough and unused for so long that it was a wonder that he could still even use it.
Scott glanced up, startled, but quickly let a smile grace his features. "What do you mean why? Because you're my best friend, and I like you and I think that you're awesome and deserve an awesome friend like me."
"But ..." Thomas started, but he was at a loss for words. He fell silent and let the tears that slipped down his face do the talking instead. Scott's smile softened and he pulled the sobbing male into his arms, letting him cry into his chest, ignoring the feeling of the tears that soaked into his shirt, making it cling uncomfortably to his skin.
"Quiet. Don't question it, just accept it, okay? Just be quiet and accept it," Scott said, glancing over Thomas' trembling shoulder at the nurse that still followed the boy around. He smiled, and the older male smiled back, gesturing with his head that he'll be around the corner.
Scott leaned back against the wall with Thomas in his arms, still crying pathetically into his chest. He rubbed the trembling back, smoothed through his hair and too-long bangs, muttering and murmuring because he didn't know what else to do.
By the time that Thomas was in grade twelve he was no longer accompanied by his nurse, but he was given antidepressant pills instead, so that he can try to deal with things on his own.
His hands shook as Scott held them, the taller boy glancing down at the smaller hand in his own and bringing it up to his face to examine it. His thumb smoothed over the flesh of the back of the hand, feeling the tendons underneath, the muscles trembling under the skin.
Thomas stared at him, moving to pull his hand back, to cradle it protectively to his chest. But before he could do that, soft lips pressed to the knuckle, warm and slightly chapped and slightly moist. Thomas could feel the blush heating his face and he quickly snatched his hand back, running to the bathroom as quickly as he can and taking the pills out of his bag with shaking hands.
Take one when needed the instructions said in big, black and bold lettering. Thomas read and reread the instructions before he opened the lid, hands trembling worse than ever. Thomas shuddered, still able to feel the ghosts of the lips that had graced his flesh.
His eyes closed as he swallowed three.
Back in the sickeningly white room with no windows, Scott sat on the chair while Thomas was reading on the bed. Scott was talking, because whenever he wasn't Thomas would tense and start to shiver beneath the weight of the silence.
"You know the true reason that I set your owl on fire?" Scott asked suddenly, moving to sit by the other boy's head, smoothing the hair back from the smooth forehead and smiling softly at the confused look that he was given.
"N-no ..." Thomas said softly, putting the book down and sitting up straight. He shivered when a hand smoothed over his cheek, teasing down his neck and down his arm to twine calloused fingers with his spidery ones. "Why?" he asked, curious and hesitant and so soft that it was barely heard.
"Simple," Scott said, leaning down so that his lips was hovering over Thomas'. "Because I wanted your attention. That's why," Thomas let his breath mingle with Scott's, who refused to move any closer, feeling the way Thomas was frozen against him, breathing stunted and eyes wide.
He sighed and stood up, smiling and saying that he had to go leave to make it to football practice. He gave a half wave over his shoulder and left through the door with the promise that he'll see him tomorrow.
Scott didn't come until late in the evening, covered in mud and wet with the rain that was falling heavily outside. His face was the mask of exhaustion, but he still managed to give a thumbs up to Thomas, who was standing by his door and has been for the past four hours.
Thomas stared at him wide eyed, before getting up and stumbling away on uncertain legs to go get a towel and a change of clothes for the other boy, who was standing outside his door and chatting loudly about the game that they had won.
When Thomas returned with the towel, draping it over Scott's hair and starting to dry the dripping strands Scott just smiled at him, grabbing him around the waist and pulling him flush to his chest.
"I meant it, you know ..." he whispered into the other boy's ear, his hot, moist breath making the smaller boy shudder against him, staring wide eyed and silent as he always was.
Then pale lips parted and hoarse words spilled out, "What did you mean? You came here about meaning something, so say what you came to say!" He didn't know what made him so mad suddenly, but he was, and he spoke with a glimmer of the personality that he had that never managed to shine through his quiet persona.
"Now who's dense?" the taller boy teased, bringing his mouth down to hover above the other boy's in a mirror of his actions of several weeks before. "I want your affections ..." he whispered as he brought his lips down against the other's in a way that made the smaller body tremble.
They made their way slowly to the bed, falling backwards onto it. Thomas pulled Scott down with him, overtop of him as his hands made their way down to the belt, unbuckling it and making quick work of the zipper and button. His hand delved into the confines of damp boxers, tracing against the hot organ that he found there.
Scott groaned, burying his nose in Thomas' hair, breathing heavily against the scalp, his breath ghosting down the back of the boy's neck and making his spine tremble. He peeled the hand away, forcing Thomas to lie on his back, making quick work of their clothes.
He blushed as Scott stared at him appreciatively, spreading his legs shamelessly, panting heavily against the backdrop of the silence that echoed around them. Scott smiled softly and lay against him, warm body on warm body.
"I want you to say it," Scott said suddenly, nipping at the other boy's ear, making him gasp and jerk away while he arched into the touches the burned down his sides.
"S-Scott ..." The breathless moan was something that had never left Thomas' lips before. It made Scott grin and kiss Thomas gently, hand smoothing through sweat soaked hair.
"Say it." Scott demanded, stopping all movement so that Thomas had no choice but to writhe and give him such a pleading, desperate look that he almost considering letting him off the hook ... But then the words spilled from the swollen, reddened lips.
"I love you," The words were as silent as they always were, but they managed to echo with such an impact that Scott jerked as if someone had yelled it in his ear. "I belong to you ..."
Um ... Yeah. Angsty romantic fluff is all angsty and romantic and fluffy.
This was actually a project for my Writing Class that I never really got around to hand in. It was a first line conflict or something like that, and the one that I chose was "Someone set my stuffed owl on fire ..." Clearly it is not the first line anymore, but it was before I edited the living daylights out of this little story.
Read and review to tell me what you think, even if you hated it. Please?